Reading Resolution Year in Review

I just sat down to look at my list and come up with my Best and Worst books that I read in 2018 and came to a really nice conclusion: I read a lot of good stuff this year. There have certainly been years where even the middle of my list was not that good (looking at you, 2017). But I feel like even the “worst” books of my 2018 are just ones that I have some issues with, nothing that I felt was a complete waste of time. So here’s a fairly positive sum-up of what I read in 2018:

Best Book: On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman. Maybe it’s my upper-middle class white upbringing showing, but this non-fiction study into over-policing in urban black communities was eye-opening and really great. If you’re ever in the mood for a solid piece of non-fiction that doesn’t read like a textbook, I would recommend it. (Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith is a close, close second.)

Most Enjoyable Book: Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell. Of everything on my reading list, this is the one that I’ve picked up and reread parts of over the course of the year. A cozy mix of queer BDSM erotica and domestic fluff, it’s not the most riveting or best-written book, but damned if I don’t love it.

Worst Book: Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu “Worst” feels like far too harsh of a term for this novel, but it just really didn’t do it for me. The main characters manage to be so indecisive that I stopped caring what decisions they ultimately made. Some good parts, but the bottom of the list from a good year. (The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu also graces the bottom of this list for having one of the most rushed endings I’ve ever seen.)

Biggest Surprise: The Shining by Stephen King This was my first King, and with this as my intro, I’m ready to try some more.

And that’s been my year in reading! My friend and I are making some slight adjustments to the categories for the coming year, and I’m excited to hit the ground running with some great books! And thank you to everyone who has read along with me!

Reading Resolution: “Behrouz Gets Lucky” by Avery Cassell

17. A debut novel: Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell

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List Progress: 4/25

Do you like reading hardcore kinky erotica?

Do you like discussions of queer identities?

Do you like painfully fluffy levels of domesticity?

If so, I have basically all of my favorite fanfics to recommend you. Also, the novel Behrouz Gets Lucky by Avery Cassell. It reads like a fanfic in all of the best ways (with a few of the same downfalls, but nothing’s perfect).

(You can even read the first chapter on Avery Cassell’s website, which tl:dr, I do recommend giving a shot.)

A few years ago, I read the anthology Best Lesbian Erotica 2015, and hated it. Haaaated it. But one of the best diamonds in the rough was the short story by Cassell, also titled “Behrouz Gets Lucky”. From my 2015 review:

One of the only pieces with an older protagonist, who feels very real and lived in.

When I saw that same title at a local bookstore, and on the cover this time, I was very intrigued. As it turns out, Avery Cassell knew they had the seed of a good story and a couple of great characters, so they expanded that story into their full-length debut novel. The readers now get to join Behrouz and Lucky, a couple made up of an early 60’s butch genderqueer submissive and a mid-40’s butch dom lesbian, as they go about their lives, their loves, and a lot of explicit sex. The whole book reads like you are following Behrouz around their day to day life, including into their bedroom.

The fanfic term “curtain fic” comes to mind, meaning a story that focuses on the comfortable minutiae of domesticity so much that the characters are practically picking out curtains. Behrouz and Lucky literally pick out curtains, and carpets, and argue about furniture in the chapters where they move in together. Lush detail goes into describing their outfits, their meals, their decorating tastes, what sort of sex toys they prefer; the fact that Lucky always uses sandalwood soap in the shower becomes a runner to mark her custom scent. The other side of the coin is that the novel does not have much in the way of plot beyond the development of their relationship. If you do not enjoy Behrouz and Lucky as characters, as well as BDSM butch/butch erotica, Behrouz Gets Lucky will not have a lot for you. But if you do like them, this is a great bed or bath book (I was never quite comfortable enough to read this one on the train).

You do not tend to see much (or really any) butch on butch erotica in the market, and the rarity of their dynamic is discussed by the characters. The book is very specifically set in modern-day San Francisco and both main characters are active in the queer scene and involved in discussions about how the city and the identities gathered within have changed over the decades. Not all of the kink scenes appealed to me (and some of them did read as a bit perfunctory, if I’m honest), but the relationship between the characters was strong enough that not everything had to turn me on in order for me to stay engaged. And for an erotica novel, that says a lot.

It feels like Avery Cassell has been working on these characters for a long time and putting a lot of thought into them; from the author bio in the back, Behrouz seems to be a bit of an author insert. Cassell clearly loves three topics above all else: butch sex, the city of San Francisco, and the country of Iran, where both Behrouz and Cassell were raised. I don’t know if Cassell has any stories in them beyond these three topics, but I would love to see what else they produce in the future.

Would I Recommend It: Yes, for lovers of curtain fic. If you need a plot, maybe look somewhere else. Try the first chapter and see if it lights a spark for you!